Well, the X-Men are also committed to messing up the time-space continuum more than Old Biff and his fist-cane.
Even recent additions to the Uncanny X-Men have complained.
“I think that you X-Men are so used to the space and time and life and death craziness in your lives that you don’t even notice how crazy it is anymore,” young Triage recently told Cyclops.
As the original five X-Men are currently blasting about in “Battle of the Atom” crossover series, we started thinking about the other occasions the X-Men have been mucking about in time to erase bad timelines, set things right and occasionally mess with history.
Some have been incredible stories that we love (and have demanded creators return to time and time again) and others are horrible timelines that we hope and pray actually get erased from the space-time continuum.
The Best X-Men Time Travel Stories
Days of Future Past – One mark of a good story arc is meaningful change. If nothing really happens as a result of the story, then why tell the story? “Days of Future Past” gave us a future where most everyone in the X-Men was dead and everything was on the line. Kitty Pryde’s future self traveled through time to possess her past self and tell the X-Men to save Sen. Robert Kelly, a mutant-hating jerkbag. The resulting story gave us Rachel Summers (yay!) and Nimrod (stupid!), and it also played on the “feared and hated by a world they’ve sworn to protect” theme that I love in X-Men comics. And it led to good things in-story, too: Sen. Kelly became a mutant activist.
Age of Apocalypse – When Charles Xavier’s insane son, Legion, traveled back in time to kill Magneto, Xavier was the accidental recipient of his death-dealing. And no Xavier meant Apocalypse eventually succeeded.
Dystopian future, dead X-Men, good guys as bad guys and interesting romantic pairings (say Rogue and Magneto hooking up) meant everything we loved about the X-Men was totally turned on its ear in the Age of Apocalypse. The only thing I might change are some of the haircuts.
Messiah War – The events of the excellent “Messiah Complex,” which involved the first new mutant birth in a long time in the Marvel Universe, were followed up with “Messiah War” in which Cyclops sends X-Force into the timestream after Cable. Elixir, Vanisher, X-23, Wolverine and future Deadpool run around after Cable while avoiding the forces of Stryfe, Apocalypse and Bishop, who at this point turned into a bad guy.
Second Coming – So Wanda Maximoff is a nut and decided to de-power all the mutants in the Marvel Universe. (All but about 200, but anyway…) After the X-Men learn of the first new mutant born since then (see Messiah War, above), there’s a bunch of time travel madness with Cable and this new mutant, Hope. Once they arrive back in present day with Hope (a teenager) and Cable (more grizzled than ever), all hell breaks loose. Favorite characters die (I’m holding back tears for a certain blue, fuzzy X-Man right now), old enemies come back to life (thanks, techno-organic virus!) and Cable once again jumps to the future to solve his problems.
Second Coming ends up being not only one of the best time travel stories in X-Men history, but big battles, bigger deaths, clever enemies, a whole lot at stake and a meaningful ending means it’s of the most exciting things that has happened to the X-Men franchise in years.
The Worst X-Men Time Travel Stories
Days of Future (anything that’s not “Past”) – Excalibur has often visited the “Days of Future (insert time word/phrase here)” including in “Days of Future Tense,” “Days of Future Yet to Come” and “Days of Future Present.” Earth 811, as it’s designated, was a fun place to visit and brought us Rachel Summers and a world full of Sentinels, but Rachel occasionally brought Excalibur (of which she’s a founding member) back to that reality to overthrow the Sentinels as well as see their mascot Widget get possessed by the spirit of Kitty Pryde. In one, Excalibur inexplicably travels to the future to overthrow Sentinels that have taken over America. (Why do this in the future when you could just prevent it from happening in the past?)
Great stories these were not.
Ashes of the Heart/Ashes of the Soul – The New Mutants are X-Men, and this story is bonkers. Magik is having some problems with Limbo (when is she not?) and her teleportation goes wonky. Magik accidentally takes her teammates to medieval Scotland and then to a desolate X-Mansion in the future while, in the present, Magneto pours himself drinks and uses robots to clean up the kids’ rooms. (Seriously. That is a thing that happens.)
Eventually, the New Mutants run into their evil future selves and fight. How does their dire situation get solved? Magik and Professor X show up and teleport all of the New Mutants out of the future. That’s it. That’s all that happens.
Here Comes Tomorrow – It’s a fun story that sees Wolverine in the future but still a young man, Beast as a crazy and ultra-evil scientist and Phoenix in her most awesome and revealing costume. Marc Silvestri’s art is incredible and with Grant Morrison writing, it’s a total freaky future acid trip.
I really dig the storyline, but it’s really just an exercise in how crazy of a story Morrison can tell. In the end, it doesn’t accomplish much of anything except as being a sort of Age of Apocalypse analogue.
By night, Kevin Coffey fights crime as a masked vigilante. By day, he’s the music critic for the Omaha World-Herald, Dungeon Master, lover of the Muppets, husband and soon-to-be father. He also enjoys making snide comments during movies (his wife has asked that he stop, but he refuses). Read his musings on Twitter (@owhmusicguy), music reviews and previews at Omaha.com, and bloggy stuff at his blog, Rock Candy.